8 November 2023

Pessoa lunging system: how to fit it, use it and the benefits it provides

A Pessoa lunging system can help improve a horse's way of going when fitted and used correctly

When you are lunging a horse, whether you choose to use a lungeing aid such as the Pessoa lunging system comes down to personal choice. Designed by showjumper Nelson Pessoa, the Pessoa training aid, when fitted and used correctly, can help to create greater engagement and connection. Used for short sessions on a regular basis, the Pessoa helps to strengthen your horse’s back and encourages them to work correctly.

The Pessoa lunging system uses a system of ropes and pulleys. There is an elastic tensioner positioned around the horse’s hindquarters and the tensioner attaches to the top of the roller. A further two lines run from the tensioner along either side of the horse, through rings on the roller (the rings are halfway down the horse’s body) and attaching to the bit rings via a small pulley, before running back to attach to the roller. It’s sounds tricky — and it’s easy to get confused! Make sure you fit the Pessoa lunging system to your horse correctly by following the instructions in full. We have also included a step-by-step guide to fitting a Pessoa below.

A Pessoa is designed to only be used on a horse while lungeing. It creates a connection between the hindquarters and the horse’s mouth. The tensioner and its supporting lines put gentle pressure on the quarters, encouraging the horse to step under their body with the hindleg and stretch and lift their back. At the same time, the lines running through the bit discourage the horse from raising their head too far by applying pressure on the mouth. As soon as the horse lowers their head, this pressure is removed.

Why use a Pessoa lunging system?

Pessoa training aid

When used correctly on a horse, the following can be achieved with a Pessoa lunging system:

  • A supple back
  • Looser paces due to improved suppleness
  • Develops topline muscle
  • Improves connection from hindquarters to bridle
  • Better engagement of the hindquarters
  • Improves the horse’s balance

“By creating greater engagement and connection, the Pessoa can help improve muscle development in weak or young horses,” says training expert Tara Osborn. “Those horses who are difficult to motivate or who find engagement of their quarters difficult will also benefit.”

By improving the back muscles, it can also help to improve horses who are tense or hollow, encouraging relaxation and the lowering and stretching of the horse’s neck and topline.

How to fit a Pessoa lunging system

The system of ropes may look a little confusing to begin with, but once you’ve used it a few times, you’ll soon get the hang of what attaches where. This is how to fit a Pessoa:

  1. Put the lungeing roller on your horse and place the hindquarters tensioner over your horse’s back.
  2. Run the two lines from the tensioner along either side of your horse and through the rings on the roller positioned halfway up their body.
  3. Now clip the lines to the bit rings. While you’re fitting, clip both attachments onto your horse’s bit. When you’re ready to start lungeing, move one clip from each side on to the roller.
  4. Attach the V-shaped piece of rope to the top of the roller.
  5. The sheepskin-covered piece sits around your horse’s hindquarters. This rear piece needs to sit just behind their stifle – it can be easily adjusted on either side to fit.
  6. When attaching the front ropes, check they’re of equal lengths. To do this, undo the clip that doesn’t have a pulley and stand in front of your horse holding the ropes.

Always follow the instructions and seek help or advice if you need it. Fitted too tightly, a Pessoa will restrict the horse’s forward movement and bring their nose behind the vertical, putting them onto the forehand. The horse must be driven forward to achieve the correct frame. Too loose and the quarters won’t engage, so there’ll be no connection from the hindquarters to the bridle.

The Pessoa lunging system (pictured top) costs around £149*. Find your nearest stockist.

Do you need a lunging aid?

Other lungeing training aids are also available and we’ve listed a selection for you to view below. Using a lungeing aid is personal choice. If you decide to use one, follow our five golden rules to make sure you choose the right one for your horse. Remember using an aid incorrectly can cause a horse discomfort and confusion, so it is better not to use one if you are not sure how to use it properly:

  1. Make sure your horse is physically able to do what’s being asked of them when you’re lungeing. Using any gadget when they have an underlying problem will only make it worse.
  2. Read the instructions before using the lungeing aid so you know how to fit it correctly and understand how it works. If you’re unsure, ask for advice from your trainer first.
  3. Always start with the aid on the loosest setting so your horse gets used to wearing it. Then adjust it gradually.
  4. Don’t expect miracles. Any lungeing aid will only work if your technique is up to scratch. It’s important to keep your horse moving forwards on the lunge and to work them evenly on both reins.
  5. Keep your lungeing sessions short to avoid the risk of injury and gradually increase the length of time.

Shop for lunging aids

The following lungeing aids are designed to improve a horse’s fitness, suppleness and engagement.

Classic Dressage lunge aid

Classic Dressage lunge aidAn innovative lunge aid that encourages your horse to work over his back, stretching forwards and down naturally. The cotton rope lies over your horse’s back just behind his withers, passing between his front legs and attaching to the bit rings. It only applies pressure when your horse hollows. The pressure is released when he softens and goes correctly.

RRP: £45*
To buy visit

Equiami standard lungeing aid

Equiami standard lungeing aid

Correct use of the EquiAmi training aid encourages your horse to work in a soft, round outline. Its unique design places your horse inside a self-centring loop. The positioning of this loop encourages your horse to bring his hind legs underneath his body, to lower his head and shorten his frame. As your horse adopts a more rounded outline, he’s rewarded by the training aid becoming looser. There’s an instructional DVD included to help you get the most out of your EquiAmi.

RRP: £65*

To buy visit

Kincade Elastic Chambon Training Strap

Kincade Elastic Chambon Training Strap

This simple elastic strap encourages your horse to lower his head and round his back, strengthening the muscles. It only comes into action if your horse raises his head above his withers.

RRP: £10.99*

Available from all good tack shops

*prices correct at time of publishing

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